Hope is inherently a vulnerable posture to take.
To hope is to attach a portion of your emotional well-being to a bucket of possibility, all the while knowing that said bucket might very well remain empty.
We say “don’t get your hopes up” because we fear the crash when that which we hoped for doesn’t come to fruition.
Baked in to hope is a desire for a particular outcome, yes, but even more than that it is desire mixed with expectation. We want it and we kinda think it might actually happen.
Then, if what we hope for fails to materialize, not only are we left with a sense of lack and disappointment because we didn’t get what we want, we’re also left feeling embarrassed, a bit disgraced even, for having ever thought it was a possibility in the first place.
And gracious, who wants to set themselves up for the possibility of disappointment and disgrace?
No thank you.
As I said, hope is inherently vulnerable.
And yet, in the Christian tradition at least, hope is one of the three great virtues: Faith, Hope, & Love.
“For in hope,” St Paul once wrote, “we have been saved.”
Which is an interesting thought, isn’t it?
That we might experience a type of salvation through the vulnerability of hope?
To make that even more intriguing, let’s replace the word “saved” (because it’s loaded with Christian-ese and theological baggage) with another translation of the Greek word Paul used, sōzō: “to make whole.”
“For in hope, we have been made whole.”
What if it is this vulnerable posture of hope... the frightening proposition that we might very well end up in a state of disappointment and disgrace.... what if it is in and by that sort of posture wherein we find a type of wholeness?
In other words, can vulnerability lead to wholeness?
My experiences in life say 100% yes.
Vulnerability and Wholeness
While maybe not directly related to hope, I can say that unequivocally the more I’ve embraced vulnerability in my life the more whole I have felt.
This paradox (or at least, for me, in my mind, it has always registered as a paradoxical equation) has hit me with surprising tenacity and consistency over the past several years. The stories I always lived by insisted that being vulnerable--eg, exposing myself to failure (or even the possibility of it); acknowledging my limitations to others; admitting I have weaknesses; owning up to my mistakes; letting others see me in my humanity--I have lived by the belief that such things would undo me. That if I let others see, or even let myself see, that I wasn’t awesome all the time, then life would be over.
Yet I’m discovering the delightful truth that
the more I walk into my shadow,
the more I am honest with my issues,
the less I resist naming my flaws,
the less I pretend that I’ve got it all together...
I’m discovering that such postures almost always end in more connection. And such connection (with myself, with others, with God) is the very definition of “wholeness.”
Turns out, being vulnerable doesn’t break me apart like I always assumed.
It puts me back together.
you might say,
it saves me.
So then, back to hope.
Hope is scary. It’s vulnerable.
To put our hope in something or someone means we are putting ourselves in a position to be hurt, disappointed, embarrassed, and disgraced.
And I totally understand the impulse to avoid such feelings.
But my hope (😉) is that we’d push past those initial impulses to protect ourselves from disappointment--which totally make sense!--and dare to let ourselves hope today.
Hope that today’s elections will put our country on a path toward healing.
Hope that the people with the best ideas for how to bring about much needed peace and justice in our country will win their races today.
Hope that the harm done to so many people as a result of the Trump administration will finally meet its four-years-too-late end.
Hope that the massive divisions intensified these past few years can begin--even if microscopically small--to find repair.
For many of us, we remember all too well the crashing despair of our hope in 2016. So we vowed to do 2020 differently. We promised to not let the polls fool us. We committed to guarding our hearts tighter, and not having too high (or any?) expectations.
In short, we kinda sorta gave up on hope. Or at the very least, we nurse a low-key version of it that feels safer and less prone to disappointment.
And I get that. I really do.
But today, tonight, and in the coming days/weeks/months that it might take to sort this stuff out, may we be people that remember that though the posture of hope is super vulnerable and scary, it also can be the very path by which we are made whole.
For in hope we have been saved.
Here’s hoping, my friends.
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